Thursday, March 04, 1999

Local wrestlers have high hopes at state




BY MARK SCHMETZER
Enquirer contributor

        Harrison 215-pound senior Brady Morris had just finished winning the Division I district championship Saturday, but he sounded like he was ready to wrestle on Sunday — if not sooner.

        “I'm ready to go,” he said. “I'm fired up.”

IF YOU GO
  • What: The 62nd Ohio High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Tournament.
  • Where: Value City Arena at The Schottenstein Center, Ohio State University, Columbus (capacity 15,000)
  • When: Today (3 p.m.); Friday (quarterfinals and second round of consolation, 10 a.m., semifinals and quarterfinals of consolation, 6:30 p.m.); Saturday (consolation semifinals and finals, 10 a.m.; championship finals, 5 p.m.)
  • Admission: $40 for all-session ticket, $7 per session.
  • At stake: State championships in 14 weight classes, three divisions.
  • How to get there: I-71 north to I-70 east to I-71 north to I-670 west; I-670 turns into State Route 315 north; SR-315 north to Lane Avenue exit; arena is located on Lane Avenue between SR-315 and Olentangy Road.
  • Note: SR-315 North from I-71 is closed for construction. Also, parking for the Thursday and Friday sessions is limited because of classes. Tournament officials request patrons follow signs to West Campus parking and ride free shuttle buses to Schottenstein Center.
v         Morris, who finished sixth in the state among Division I 215-pounders last season, will get his chance to improve on that starting today. The 62nd Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament convenes for the first time at the Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus.

        Morris and 69 other area wrestlers in three divisions — 35 from Division I, 25 from Division II and 10 from Division III — will open the three-day event today at 3 p.m. Sessions also are scheduled Friday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., which is when the championship finals in all three divisions will be decided.

        While local school have no chance to capture team championships, some individuals could earn titles or place in their weight classes. Among them is Morris, who is 36-1. He must get past last year's fourth- and fifth-place finishers in his class, who also are back, but he has the best record of the three.

        Another local wrestler with high hopes is Elder sophomore Nick Spatola (119), whose was fifth last year at 103. The 32-3 Spatola will face tough competition from Lakewood St. Edward junior Mark Jayne, who won the 112 state championship last season.

        The biggest Division I question mark stands next to the name of Sycamore senior Omar Scruggs, who was considered by many experts to be the favorite to win at 140 pounds but lost to Moeller junior Bobby Lyons in last week's district finals. Scruggs still hasn't shaken off the lingering aftereffects of a broken bone in his left hand suffered late in the season.

        “He still doesn't have his timing down,” Sycamore coach Gary Listermann said. “He hasn't practiced much over the last three weeks. His hand is fine. Now, it's just a matter of fine-tuning him.”

        Purcell Marian is sending a school-record five wrestlers to the Division II state tournament. The Cavalier contingent will be led by senior heavyweight Steve Williams, who was undefeated going into last week's district tournament. Williams, at 32-1, is one of four wrestlers in his class who has one loss or is undefeated. That group includes Clyde senior and defending champion Tim Anderson, who is 36-1.

        Taylor senior Tony Brock is the only wrestler at 112 who finished among the top six in that weight class last year. Two of this year's other qualifiers placed fifth and sixth at 103 in 1998.

        Long-time Purcell Marian coach Terry Meinking said local Division II sleepers include Lemon-Monroe sophomore Zach Hensley at 125 and Trenton Edgewood senior Kurt Stoffregan at 145. Stoffregan's 35-1 record is defeated only by Ontario senior Wes Turnbaugh, 37-0, who finished third at Division III 140 last year.

        “(Stoffregan's) the kid who's impressed me the most,” Meinking said.

        Cincinnati Hills League members Reading and Madeira dominate the Division III contingent with four and three qualifiers, but the CHL wrestler who might be the happiest to be there is Indian Hill junior Ryan Combs, who just squeezed in by finishing third at 140 in the district tournament. Combs (23-3) is the only person to beat Lockland senior Gerald Gertz this season.

        “He's a gutsy kid,” said Madeira coach Bob Kearns. “He's coming off a broken leg. He had to have pins put in it, but he came back ready to go.”



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